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Welcome to my blog.

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I’m Christine. I’m a gal obsessed with haunts, escape rooms and other oddities. That’s what this blog is dedicated to. Most of my entries will be about the west coast since that is where I live, however I also love to travel.

Thanks for stopping by.

Find me on twitter: @christinebarger

 

CATEGORIES:

ESCAPE ROOMS

ESCAPE ROOM INTERVIEWS

HAUNTS

OTHER ODDITIES

 

 

Looking for a worldwide escape room directory? ESCAPE ROOM AUTHORITY

INTERVIEW – Jason Richard of Steal and Escape – ESCAPE ROOM

Please introduce yourself.

I’m Jason Richard and own Steal and Escape with my wife Marketa in San Diego, California. We have been open for about four months and current have one room “Mysterious Stranger” with a second room on the way.

Why did you decide to get involved in the escape room industry?

Marketa and I were in Budapest on vacation and saw a small flyer that described an escape game and as we toured the city we found rooms everywhere. We decided to give one a try and 20 minutes into our first game I knew I was going to open one (The first room we did is still the best game we played, unfortunately we can’t remember its name).

What makes Steal and Escape different from other escape games?

We have two areas that make us different from other rooms. To start, I grew up opening anything I could get my hands on, from old stereos to locks to vehicles. I needed to understand the mechanics and electronics of everything, our games are designed with this mindset. Our puzzles are less about math and riddles and more about using objects and tools to find answers. Second, while most rooms ask the players to escape, our players start by figuring out how to get into the room and then escaping after the objective is met.

What’s it like for you watching players play your game?

Having taught teamwork, leadership and communication for three years, I appreciate a group that works together. When a person finds a clue or solves a puzzle and tells everyone what they accomplished, I get excited. I also love ingenuity. I rarely stop a group from solving a puzzle in a way that was not intended. Although there should only be one way to solve it, it’s awesome to see people think in a way that is so much different than my own thought process.

What do you think is the most important part of an escape room design?

Puzzles that are designed for different mindsets. When I do a room, I bring a crew that thinks different from one another. I like puzzles that make me ask another person to “take a look” because I have no idea where to begin. It gives everyone a chance to shine and shows that everyone playing has helped in completing the objective.

What advice do you have for players?

Listen to the ideas from all members of your team. We frequently see someone with the solution ignored because their idea seems far-fetched. Your group has 60 minutes to solve the puzzle, it doesn’t hurt try everyone’s ideas.

Miss Jean Louis of GISHWHES

Miss Jean Louis of GISHWHES (Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen) was born in a hut in Khôr ‘Angar, in the dirt. I’m going to be honest, I’d never actually heard of Khôr ‘Angar…so I looked it up. Hmmm…East Africa. Okay.


Khôr ‘Angar is a town in the northern Obock Region of Djibouti. It is situated on the west coast of the Bab el Mandeb Strait. It’s about 160 miles from Djibouti City which is a pretty important city in that area. It’s really warm there most of the time. January is their coldest month on average, but it’s still 80 degrees. (The average high in July is mid 90’s, but it does get in the 100’s sometimes.) I love living just north of Los Angeles in “The Valley” because our weather is a lot like Khôr ‘Angar…although I could do without the 100+ degrees in the summer. There are a lot less people in Khôr ‘Angar though. Their population is around 1,000. They have an airstrip there, so it seems possible to fly in for a vacation.

I’m not sure how long Miss Jean Louis lived in Khôr ‘Angar, but I like to think she had many a fun childhood memory there. She probably knew everyone in town and they knew and loved her. I imagine she was a very friendly child and quite loved chasing bugs.
*Photo from Wikipedia 

ESCAPE ROOM – Escape Hotel: Agent – California

Escape Hotel: Agent

We enter a beautiful hotel lobby reminiscent of the Disney California Adventure’s former Tower of Terror. A strange bellhop greets us in a rather robotic manner. Upon approaching the desk we are warmly greeted and asked for our IDs. Several minutes later we are handed a very professional looking passport. To the right of the desk stands a counter that serves sandwiches, salads and drinks. Many comfortable couches are scattered about the lobby and the second level. The wheelchair specific lift to the second floor next to a backdropped photo op look a bit out of place, but it’s forgivable because their purposes are so clearly important. Postmodern Jukebox rings throughout the building adding to a fun but slightly creepy environment. This lobby sets expectations high even if you haven’t watched the incredible marketing videos before arriving.

Unfortunately the Agent Room isn’t quite as spectacular as the lobby, but it is a lot of fun. The decor is good. I honestly expected a bit more from it based on the amazing lobby. There are zip ties holding a few things together that seem a bit more functional than decorator choices. I’m usually not a fan of war themes, but this one was quite fun. I felt transported to a different time, maybe because I would never expect to find swastikas on anything these days. I couldn’t tell you the story primarily because I couldn’t hear the video that explains it over the loud music meant to set the tone. There is very little tech in the room, but what is there worked properly. It is very much your typical well-done escape room. I liked one of the puzzles near the beginning because it felt very MacGyver and I hadn’t seen it before. The room bottlenecks near the end, but up to that point there seemed to be enough to keep all six of us busy. If you are sensitive to violence or historic war visuals, this may not be the room for you. Also be aware this is right smack in Hollywood, so arrive early to find parking and deal with unexpected traffic.

Overall my husband and I had a really good time. We went opening weekend, so the company is still going through some growing pains of a brand new business. I expect amazing things from them in the near future, but until then The Agent is the room I recommend at Escape Hotel.

ESCAPE ROOM – 60out Escape Room: Doctor Psycho – California

60out Escape Room: Doctor Psycho


I’ve played A LOT of psycho killer rooms and honestly I thought I was “over” that theme until I played Doctor Psycho. This new room in Los Angeles is a refreshing change from the typical psycho killer escape rooms. It is innovative and fun. There is a great creep factor and comfortableness about it that I haven’t felt in a while. The decor is good. The puzzles are great. Yeah, there are still typical locks and some standard puzzle logic that I’ve seen before, but they also did some new and creative stuff that I just love! (Honestly I’m almost at my 200 room mark, so chances are the puzzles I have seen before will still be fresh and new to most players.) I especially love the way they integrate the players into the story in such an immersive way. Normally when I play a room that just opened I expect a few glitches and growing pains, but this room didn’t have them. I am looking forward to seeing what these guys come up with next.

 

ESCAPE ROOM – Steal and Escape – California

Steal and Escape

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The government wants me to break into my neighbor’s house to save America? Sure. I always thought he was a weird dude anyway. Let’s go!

The story of Steal and Escape is a unique take on the typical “you work for the government.” I really like that we are called on to save our country by breaking IN to the neighbor’s house. Not a lot of rooms have you break IN, usually you are breaking out. The story continues throughout the game as you discover and unlock the pieces. The puzzles themselves are well done and creative. I managed to solve a large physical puzzle by myself that was supposed to be a team effort. I enjoyed the creativity of the puzzles, instead of the standard blacklight searching games I see in so many rooms. There was a lot of thought and passion in this game and you can tell. The decor is great, as well. Overall it is a fun, immersive game located in San Diego.

ESCAPE ROOM – Exit Game: The School of Sorcery – California

Exit Game: The School of Sorcery


You and your wizard friends are all dressed in your finest Hogwarts attire about to head to Universal Studios Wizarding World of Harry Potter for the 45th time when you realize it’s over 100 degrees today. Wouldn’t you rather enjoy some magic and excitement in more comfortable conditions? Go online and book a time slot for The School of Sorcery. You won’t be disappointed.

I have always wanted to be able to wave a wand and do real magic…The School of Sorcery is the closest I’ve come to that in an escape room. The wonderful blend of tech and traditional puzzles make for a strong game. The storytelling throughout the game creates an especially immersive environment, although the characters can feel a bit long winded considering we are racing the clock.

I had played the old wizard game that previously occupied this room, and I am glad they upgraded to an almost completely different game. (If you played the old game you may recognize a couple of things in the room.) Without giving any spoilers, I’ll just say the final puzzle of this game is one of my favorite uses of technology in a room. It’s done in a way that feels organic, clever and fun.

I played The School of Sorcery with my husband and a friend of ours that is also very good at escape rooms and we barely made it out in time. I would recommend a team of at least 4 people for this game, however if you are determined to play with less I think you must have at least 2 for certain puzzles.

This escape room is located in Monterey Park, just outside of Los Angeles.

Midsummer Scream  Escape Room Panel


No Way Out: Horror Escape Rooms

Saturday, July 30

Time: 11:30am-12:30pm

Where: Second Stage

Panelists: Christine Barger (moderator), Eddy Millis (13th Room), Kayden Ressel (Basement), Madison Rhoades (Cross Roads)

* 30% off General Admission tickets to Midsummer Scream.
Code: ESCAPE

Enter code at ticketing page on MidsummerScream.org